Blog Archives

#WriteTip: Keeping Track of Your Series

Sam av

Hey, all!

I have always been a planner. And I’m not usually over the top–although I can be–but some amount of planning goes into every one of my stories. It’s usually just a rudimentary outline (see 7-point story structure) and a rough idea of setting, conflict, and characters. Most of the time, that’s enough to keep me on track.

However, as I’ve been diving into Book 2 of my series with ACHILLEA, I’m trying to crack down on a lot of what I know my weaknesses are. Chronology and seasons, how much time does my book actually cover, little hints and breadcrumbs, military details, where I put Rauden’s scars, etc. As my books have evolved, I’ve added a lot of minor characters and I have apparently drifted slightly from where my main characters were. For example, I looked back over my notes on Lyda, Sielle, and Naniha, a group of three friends and Achillea’s first recruits. In my mind now, they’re older than I originally intended. Fun thought experiment, I asked my friends at the Dead Pete Society how old they thought my characters were, and I got a range of reactions:

Kathi said 17-20. Jori said 16-18. Frankie said 20-26. I had them written down as 18-22, and in my mind, they’d become somewhere between 20-24.

Then I asked who they thought was oldest, and who was youngest.

Kathi and Jori agreed Naniha was the oldest, Lyda the youngest. Frankie thought Naniha was the youngest, and Lyda the oldest. Originally, Lyda was the youngest, but now my brain thinks she is the oldest. I find it interesting…Kathi and Jori have a closer handle on where I originally placed my characters, but Frankie seems to share my now-brain.

I clearly had some work to do.

I have character sheets for all of my characters in Scrivener, but as each of my books has its own file, this became a bit of a pain. And yeah, I know I can export/import from one book to another, but even that became a pain as I added and subtracted characters because I had to make sure it was consistent across all of my books.

And since I plan to take the series into at least seven books with a set of spin-offs, I knew I had to be more organized this time. You can’t just race off into the sunset and chase a series without being completely, one hundred percent in control of your setting and your characters. If people fall in love with my series as I hope they will, they’re going to catch on. I need to know this world and these people better than anyone.

So I made another book. A physical one. I have a weakness for office supplies, and that most certainly includes blank journals and notebooks. So I repurposed a journal that my friend got me for Christmas into a character reference. Every character gets a page, even if I only put them in the book to kill them off later. If I need to, I’ll start another journal, but so far this one has everyone in it with about half the pages to spare.

I gave each character the following details:

  • Name, with pronunciation and applicable nicknames
  • Nationality
  • Age at the founding of Vaethrre (my city), including birthday (because I might need that) based on what I think their astrological symbol is. (Okay, look…I don’t REALLY ascribe to this belief…but there are people who read this that might). For example, Lyda sounds like a Virgo, so I put her birthday in that range. This will help me keep their ages straight as the books progress, provided I can keep my damned timeline straight (this is the challenge).
  • The top of each page has their D&D alignment (Lyda is Lawful Good), their Meyers-Briggs personality type indicator (Lyda is an INFP), and who I think would be a good actor/actress for them (right now Lyda is marked as Natalie Dormer…her inability to properly smile because she always smirks is a shoe in, and Natalie looks badass with short hair)
  • Physical appearance, especially important if someone changes theirs later (like Heike does, or when Lyda gets new tattoos).
  • Personality; this is their concrete personality, what is less likely to change. PTSD or character shifts are added in later to the Notes section. Sielle hates apologies and refuses to apologize herself. This won’t change. But her extreme bitterness to the point of potential self-destruction is an added change and will go into the Notes section. That’s something that may eventually be undone. I haven’t decided that yet. For her to suddenly appreciate apologies would be out-of-character, however.
  • Family connections
  • Motivations; What are they trying to achieve? Everyone is motivated by something, even if their ultimate goal is just to be left alone.
  • Conflicts; what adverse forces are working against the character? Lyda takes issue with cruelty, and she steps in when she believes those around her are acting unfair or vindictive.
  • Love interest(s), including whether or not they have an ‘aya’, the equivalent of a True Love in my stories (in ACHILLEA, ‘true love’ is a very real thing. Kind of.).
  • Their opinion of the Warden (more or less ‘God’), if they have one.
  • Secrets; Lyda is a very private person and she keeps a lot of her own desires to herself.
  • Fears; Myen is afraid of heights and horses
  • Dislikes; Heike hates cheese
  • Likes; Kirae has a fondness for conversation and company
  • Skills
  • Weaponry; Heike has 54 different bladed weapons. At some point, I intend to list them all, but I don’t want to accidentally end up with 58 in case anyone is counting.
  • Notes; I left a big blank space here for most of the characters depending on how long I intend to keep them around. Myen and Heike get several pages each, but cameo characters like Carme (who works at the hospital) only get a page.

Then I put a Table of Contents at the front, and voila! I’m good to go! Now I can use this handy dandy notebook for all of my books. And hopefully, I’ll never get lost again!


S.K. Balk lives in the frozen wasteland of Northern Michigan. She is the author of the dystopian medical sci-fi THE BLOOD OF NERYS (also available in print) and short fantasy A SHINY FOR TRICK (forever free for your entertainment!).

Check out the #WriteTip category for more writing advice and tools from Frankie and Sam!

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#SamWIP: 12K Day and a Trip to the ER

Sam av

WHEW, I had a big day! 😀


S.K. Balk lives in the frozen wasteland of Northern Michigan. She is the author of the dystopian medical sci-fi THE BLOOD OF NERYS (also available in printand short fantasy A SHINY FOR TRICK (forever free for your entertainment!).

Check out the #SamWIP category every Monday to hear about Sam’s current projects!

#SamWIP: New Books, Free Books, Old Books, and THE Book

Sam av

In this video, I’ll talk about the books I bought last week, how A SHINY FOR TRICK is doing now that it’s free, show off the hardcover proof of THE BLOOD OF NERYS, and talk about all of the work I’ve accomplished on ACHILLEA.


S.K. Balk lives in the frozen wasteland of Northern Michigan. She is the author of the dystopian medical sci-fi THE BLOOD OF NERYS (also available in print) and short fantasy A SHINY FOR TRICK (forever free for your entertainment!).

#SamWIP: Book Buying Binge and OMG SO PRODUCTIVE

Sam av

I have been -SO- busy. Doing what I am supposed to be doing and devoting my soul to the words.

Check it.


Check out the #SamWIP category every Monday to hear about Sam’s current projects!

S.K. Balk lives in the frozen wasteland of Northern Michigan. She is the author of the dystopian medical sci-fi THE BLOOD OF NERYS (also available in print).

#SamWIP: How I Kind of Accidentally Invented Zoroastrianism After it Already Existed

Sam av

Deep in the drudgeries of Twitter, I discovered a lord of demons named Aeshma. In my quest to understand this demon, I uncovered more information about an old, old religion I’d never heard of that shares enough similarities with the religion I’ve built in ACHILLEA to freak me out.

The same thing happened to a friend of mine who accidentally wrote part of the Kalevala after the fact.

Beyond that, I have a lot to update you on about my projects and how much I’ve gotten done in the past week.

So this video covers the glimmers of Zoroastrianism in ACHILLEA, my editing on current projects, and the ten chapters I have read of EMERGENCE, as well as the new workspace.

Happy New Year to all of you! May 2017 be sweet to you.


Check out the #SamWIP category every Monday to hear about Sam’s current projects!

S.K. Balk lives in the frozen wasteland of Northern Michigan. She is the author of the dystopian medical sci-fi THE BLOOD OF NERYS (also available in print).

#SamWIP: SEQUEL IN PROGRESS

Sam av

It’s probably not as exciting to you as it is for me, but I’m writing a sequel to a book you haven’t read yet. 😀 It’s going pretty well!

 

#SamWIP: Scrivener Crash

Sam av

I finally have an excuse to not write that isn’t my fault! And despite that, I managed to write something anyway!

So enjoy my epic tale of woe and technological difficulty. Thanks, as ever, for your support! You guys are the best!


S.K. Balk lives in the frozen wasteland of Northern Michigan. She is the author of the dystopian medical sci-fi THE BLOOD OF NERYS (also available in print).

ACHILLEA is done again!

green

Title says it all. ^_^ I’m going to go chill now.

nasa

Keep yer mitts warm

green

In today’s vid I talk about finishing reading Malevolence, the status of my Achillea readthrough and publishing readiness, as well as the popularity of my Wiselike page, shopping for houses, talking to English classes about writing, and where to get some sweet gloves for keeping your fingers warm when you’re writing (linked below).

LexaKnits

Lexa Knits on Etsy

Ask me a question on Wiselike!

Thanks as always for following!!!

On Plot Bunnies and WIPs

green

Sam here. 🙂

Hey all!

So the other day, someone in my local writing group asked in a rather frustrated manner how some of us writing veterans deal with all of the plot bunnies. And then someone else asked if they should save the second half of their novel for next year’s NaNoWriMo (the answer to that is a resounding ‘NO’).

Naturally we responded by discussing the nature of plot bunnies and the large number of Works in Progress (WIPs) that we each have. As a treat to you, I’m going to discuss these topics in the video and write about my WIPs in this blog post. Before we get to that, note that the titles I’ve provided are a silly working titles and I’m not sold on the titles yet, but the files have to have names.

WIPs

  • A Shiny for Trick (complete, 17K words)
  • The Blood of Nerys (in Beta, 79K words)
  • Achillea (revising, 95%, 120K words)
  • Sequel to Achillea (25%, 30K words)
  • Sequel to sequel of Achillea (unstarted)
  • A Con of Mages (?%, 2K words)
  • Windcursed (20%, 19K words)
  • Angrad (?%, 1K words)
  • Empress 10%, 8K words)
  • Fever Dream (50%, 40K words)
  • I Will Destroy You (?%, 16 words)
  • I Wish [Labyrinth Fanfic] (15%, 3K words)
  • Meridell [Neopets Fanfic] (20%, 3K words)
  • Monarch (?%, 2K words)
  • The Strange Courtship of Life and Death (?%, 1K words)
  • Toast (?%, 70 words)
  • Wimzee (?%, 3K)
  • [Radial Series] (Unstarted)